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Josquin: Missa L'homme armé; Ave Maria; Absalom fili mi
Josquin Desprez, Jeremy Summerly, Oxford Camerata
Josquin: Missa L'homme armé; Ave Maria; Absalom fili mi
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #1

Naxos continues its L'homme armé series with Josquin's four-voice Mass composed around the 15th-century popular tune. This appealing work features an extraordinary triple canon in the final Agnus Dei--with a sound often co...  more »

      
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CD Details

All Artists: Josquin Desprez, Jeremy Summerly, Oxford Camerata
Title: Josquin: Missa L'homme armé; Ave Maria; Absalom fili mi
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Naxos
Release Date: 5/26/1998
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
Styles: Opera & Classical Vocal, Chamber Music, Historical Periods, Classical (c.1770-1830)
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 730099442824

Synopsis

Amazon.com
Naxos continues its L'homme armé series with Josquin's four-voice Mass composed around the 15th-century popular tune. This appealing work features an extraordinary triple canon in the final Agnus Dei--with a sound often compared to Philip Glass. The ever-inconsistent Oxford Camerata performs underwhelmingly--Summerly's slow tempos render some portions of the Mass tender, many others just sluggish. For example, at the end of the Credo, when the music goes from serene double-time into joyful triple-time, the change barely registers. The ubiquitous "Ave Maria" comes off better, if only because the singers must know it inside-out, but their performance of Vinders's beautiful lament sounds like sight-reading. For the Mass, the Tallis Scholars are worth the extra money; for well-performed-but-budget-priced polyphony, choose Summerly's superb Obrecht CD. --Matthew Westphal
 

CD Reviews

Not great, not bad - worth having at this price!
Concert Music | Alpharetta, GA USA | 02/25/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"A quick note to Amazon - your listing is mislabelled, as this is the Sexti toni version of this Mass, not the Super voces musicales.As Matthew rightly points out, this is not one of the Oxford Camerata's best performances. In their defence, it also is not one of Josquin's more exciting works. However, at the price, this is a very nice CD to have in your library - if only to compare this reading with the arguably better one by the Tallis Scholars. If you are looking for a better example of the Oxford Camerata's skill, try their offering of Thomas Tallis' Mass for Four Voices and Motets. All things considered, still worth 4 stars, but it's a CD that needs to be listened to without distractions."
EXQUISITE
DAVID BRYSON | Glossop Derbyshire England | 11/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"As well as the mass and the chanson it is based on this disc provides a motet 'Absalom my son' thought to have been possibly composed to commemorate the death of the son of the Borgia pope Alexander VI, plus an Ave Maria in which I was overjoyed to find the lovely melody that I have known all my life to the words of the Marian hymn 'Ave coelorum domina'. On top of that there is one absolutely brilliant extra, not by Josquin at all -- another motet, by Jheronimus Vinders little of whose work survives, and likely a posthumous tribute to Josquin himself. This is a quite outstandingly beautiful thing, strong and rich in tone, perhaps the jewel of the entire recital. Josquin's own music here is of a 'continuous' type, like that of Palestrina and without the antiphonal effects that I have come across in other works by Josquin and after him his Flemish compatriot Lassus.

The text of the mass is in the usual sections, with the Agnus Dei given the full three times and not just two, making a grand and solemn finale. In addition there is a mediaeval Latin poem in rhyming tercets following the credo, which I take to be the 'Sequence', like the Dies Irae familiar from most settings of the mass for the dead. However the translation provided is quite inexcusably bad, containing so many errors that I am including an accurate version in this review (* below).The study of the classics has of course declined, but I should have thought that at Oxford if anywhere there must still be plenty of folk around competent to vet and correct a piece of Latin construe. In other respects the production is admirable, with a short but informative liner-note largely concerned with current theories regarding Josquin's year of birth but also containing material on the music and the performers. The recording is beyond complaint, and the performance is at least within striking distance of the best standard of the Oxford Camerata. There are 12 singers, 5 women and 7 men, which I take to show that there is one female alto and one male.

*
. The joyful day of the great leader, bringing the gift of new light, is celebrated today.
. Grace is given to the believing mind, and let whatever is brought forth from the doors ring in the ardent heart.
. Along this path from the east let us wonder at the face of the rising patriarch.
. The mighty seed of a great race has made him as the sun, most like Abraham.
. You see the attendant raven, and on the other side behold Elias inconspicuous in the little cave.
. When the axe is brought back from the belly of the torrent let it be recognised as that of Elias.
. The shining virtue of Joseph and the mind of Jacob that knows future generations have gone into making him.
. Let him, mindful of his own people, lead us ever into the joys of Christ everlasting."
Fabulous music, Fine performance, Great price. Get it now!
Craig Matteson | Ann Arbor, MI | 12/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is glorious music sung wonderfully by the Oxford Camerata under the skilled direction of Jeremy Summerly. I am a huge fan of Josquin's music and consider him one of the great composers of all time. The group singing this has only a dozen voices and they sing with great clarity both in tone and in word. That, along with their intelligent shaping of the music, makes for a great experience when listening to contrapuntal music (music with multiple melodies in different voices).

When a mass is given a name like "Missa L'homme armé" it refers to an extant song that is used in the mass as a cantus firmus (an organizing principle before the advent of harmonic progressions). There is more than one version of the song "The Armed Man is to be feared" in different musical modes (too technical to discuss here), and Josquin set two of them that we know of. This is the version in Mode 6.

Also with this glorious mass we get a Josquin setting of Ave Maria, the fabulous Absalon, fili mi, and a Vinders motet on the death of Josquin. The Absalon we think was set at the request of Josquin's patron for Pope Alexander VI whose son (!), Juan Borgia had been murdered. This is a perfect text for such a family and contains a first in music. The text describing the descent into hell contains a harmonic progressing in a descending circle of fifths (into the flat keys).

All pretty wonderful stuff and at a fabulous price. Snap up this disk!"